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“He was only saying things the way he saw them, he didn’t realise you were getting offended,” said Trogdar, walking at a fast trot to keep up with the relentless march of the Dwarf, “you know how he can be sometimes, he thinks in different ways to the rest of us.”

Short-arse stopped abruptly in her stride and gesticulated with her axe, “Don’t you let that Elf fool you, manling, he knew exactly what he was saying. Now let’s get on with this, the sooner we get this done the sooner I can get back home.”

Trogdar was taken aback by this, “You mean you’re not going to stick with us after this is all over?”

Short-arse turned and marched off again. Trogdar stood for a short time in the corridor alone collecting his thoughts.

“Did you find the Dwarf?” asked Jandyr, having swiftly caught up.

“What? Oh, yeah, yeah, she’s, err, scouting ahead,” replied Trogdar, lost in his thoughts.

“Very well, let us proceed. I believe those keys can open that large door the Wizard and I were studying earlier,” replied Jandyr, already hurrying off. The Wizard, who had been stood furtively behind the Elf scuttled off after him, protectively guarding his knapsack. Trogdar followed dejectedly.

As they reached the pit, they found the Dwarf outside waiting, “Bit dark in there. Looks like something’s afoot.”

Trogdar took the lead and shone the lantern through into a pitch blackness that felt thick and heavy. Suddenly from the far end of the pit in front of the doors, a small point of light began to glow and expand to illuminate the face of the man they had rescued earlier.

“Greetings fools,” he spat as he began to cackle madly, “little did you know as you explored this crypt that you had entered the lair of the great Necromancer, Alberto Laranscheld!” At the mention of his name he flung back his cloak to reveal a horde of bats which began to attack the warriors.

“Not the bats!” screamed Trogdar, swinging wildly with his mace.

“Yes!” he laughed, even more maniacally, “The creatures of the night and the forces of death are both mine to command!”

He gestured with one arm, and from the walls a tide of rats flooded into the chamber, clawing and scratching. With his other arm he gestured towards the ground and began pulling his arm upwards, a horde of skeletal warriors rising from the bones of those the Warriors had slayed earlier.

“And now,” he said with a flourish, watching as the Warriors fought against his creatures, “I summon, a Blade of Power!”

There was a bright flash of light which momentarily blinded all those with eyes to see it. When it receded, Alberto stood triumphant holding… a bunch of flowers.

“No, no, I said a Blade of Power!” he screamed into the ether.

“TROGDAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!” screamed Trogdar, wielding his mace right and left, smashing bats and bones alike. Nothing could stop him in his rage, and in moments he was stood in front of the impotent Laranscheld, who cowered in front of him, his arms raised in a gesture of helplessness.

“For you?” he said as he offered the flowers to Trogdar.

Trogdar lifted the Necromancer by his proffered arm and smashed his mace into his ribcage, caving it in and killing the man instantly. “I’m not too fond of flowers.”

Trogdar turned, expecting to see the forces Laranscheld had summoned wither and collapse as they had done earlier with the Wight King, but to his surprise they fought on, his companions taking numerous wounds. Even as they fought, yet more skeletons rose, and a rain of arrows began to fall from the lip of the pit above as skeletal archers drew back their bony limbs in a punishing rain of fire.

“To me!” Trogdar called, “let’s get this door open.”

He put the key he had in the lock and turned it but it would not budge.

“Try yours,” he shouted to the Wizard over the din of battle. The Wizard held out one arm in front of him and shouted, “FREEZE!” turning bats into icicles which plunged to the ground and shattered, and put the key into the lock with the other, but it would also not turn.

“Try both together,” grunted Short-arse, 3 skeletons pressing down on her. She held them off with her axe before shoving back and breaking their spines with one neat, swift stroke.

“On 3,” called Trogdar, an arrow piercing his hip, “1, 2…”

The Wizard turned his key early but it did not move.

“I said 3, didn’t I?” shouted Trogdar.

“I got bored,” said the Wizard.

“Please hurry,” said the Elf, even his reflexes failing to save him from the shear amount of sword strikes now assailing him.

“Right, on 3 this time,” said Trogdar.

“Just go on 1” said Short-arse, arrows sticking from her back like a pincushion.

“OK, 1”

The keys clicked and whirred as they both began to turn of their own accord. The large door began to lift into a recess in the ceiling, and a void of deepest blackness was revealed. A single rope led down into the darkness.

“After you,” said Trogdar to Short-arse, who was bleeding heavily from numerous wounds. The Dwarf began to descend the rope until Trogdar could see her no more. “What’s down there?” he called, but there was no response.

“Oh well, Geroniwhassisname…” said Trogdar, also descending and vanishing from sight.

“Which do you think is worth more, rats or bats?” asked Jandyr to the Wizard, lighting the candle he had found earlier to save them from being lost in the darkness.

The Wizard said nothing, his eyes had rolled back to reveal pearls of purest whiteness and streams of thick ice were shooting from his hand, keeping the archers at bay.

“Never mind,” said Jandyr, plucking another bat out of the sky.

As they fought on for a while, a great moan sounded throughout the pit which turned into a piercing scream. The 2 warriors looked on in horror as the body of Alberto Laranscheld began to twitch and jerk, then stood in front of them, skin sloughing off him in great rivers. He slowly raised his arm and pointed a bony finger at the Wizard.

“I HAVE RETURNED? YOU STOLE MY BOOK!”

The Elf turned and gave the Wizard a death-stare.

“Time to go,” squeaked the Wizard, running for the rope and sailing down it.

“That damn Wizard…” the Elf muttered to himself as he watched him go. He was so distracted he didn’t see the reaver that was formerly Alberto raise his sword and slice through the Elf’s spine, carving a great gash in his back. The Elf toppled and fell through the void.

Alberto watched him as he fell until his eyes rolled from their sockets and landed with a wet splat on the stone floor below. He turned to regard his creatures through empty voids that flickered and flared until a blue light started to illuminate them. “Come my children,” he said through a mouth devoid of tongue and teeth, “we have much work to do in case they return.”

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